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Two Syrians and three Lebanese charged with Tripoli attacks - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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A man talks on the phone as he walks past damages caused by the bombs that hit two mosques in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli August 24, 2013. (REUTERS/Omar Ibrahim)

A man talks on the phone as he walks past damages caused by the bombs that hit two mosques in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli on August 24, 2013. (REUTERS/Omar Ibrahim)

Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat—The Lebanese judiciary has charged two Syrians and three Lebanese in connection with last week’s two bomb attacks on the Al-Taqwa and Al-Salam mosques in Tripoli.

The twin attacks killed 50 and injured more than 500. With the twin blasts taking place shortly after Friday prayers, most of the victims were worshipers.

The three Lebanese men—head of the pro-Assad Islamist Tawhid Movement Sheikh Hashem Minqara, Sheikh Mohammed Al-Gharib and Mustafa Houry—are currently in custody.

Military prosecutor Saqr Saqr accused Gharib and Houry of setting up a cell “to carry out terrorist acts in Lebanon, with the aim of killing political and religious figures.”

Sheikh Minqara has been charged with “concealing information he had” about the two attacks and “not having alerted authorities.”

Military prosecutor also charged two Syrians identified as Mohamed Ali Ali and Khodr Lutfi Al-Airouni. The two Syrian men remain at large.

Judicial source who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity said: “The speed of uncovering the clues of Tripoli’s twin attacks is considered as a significant accomplishment in security that soothed people.”

“The investigation revealed serious and significant information showing that the recent attacks were a part of a plot by former Lebanese minister Michel Samaha and the head of the Syrian Ba’ath Party’s National Security Bureau, Ali Mamlouk,” the source added.

Samaha was arrested last year in Lebanon after the information branch found 27 bombs in his car. He was thought to have been transferring the explosive material from Syria to launch attacks on mosques and other places of worship in northern Lebanon.

The investigations concluded that last week’s attacks were planned six months ago in Syria in coordination between the two Syrian nationals and Gharib, who has visited Syria several times recently.

The judicial sources also said that the two attacks were meant to target the Future Movement MP Khaled Daher and the former general director of the Lebanese Internal Security Forces, Maj. Gen. Asharf Rifi, who both usually perform the Friday prayer at Al-Salam Mosque. Sheikh Salim Rifai, the imam of Al-Taqwa Mosque, is also thought to have been a target.

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat

Asharq Al-Awsat is the world’s premier pan-Arab daily newspaper, printed simultaneously each day on four continents in 14 cities. Launched in London in 1978, Asharq Al-Awsat has established itself as the decisive publication on pan-Arab and international affairs, offering its readers in-depth analysis and exclusive editorials, as well as the most comprehensive coverage of the entire Arab world.

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